At first glance some readers (myself included), might be mistaken to assume that Faith Driven Investing is another “how to” guide on ethical investing – it is not. In fact, the book has very little to say about investing per say and rather focuses on the “faith driven” investors themselves and the wider role of the Christian faith: What makes a Christian investor? What drives them? How do they influence change? How should a Christian think about risk? How are Christians in the financial sector or in business called to engage with the capital markets and money more generally? (pages 3-4).
These broader questions are tackled in the book by a collection of authors (seventeen to be exact). The contributors are mostly prominent practitioners within the field such as Cathie Wood, Luke Rousch and Richard Okello, as well as those with more of a theological/pastoral background such as Timothy Keller and Andy Crouch.
The structure of the book therefore comprises fourteen chapters representing individual essays that are collated within two larger sections. The first is called “Faith Driven Investors are…” while the second is titled “Therefore, They…”, reflecting the overarching intention of exploring who faith driven investors are and what they are called to do. The main audience of the book is Christian investors and entrepreneurs but those with a wider general interest in business as a force for good will find it worthwhile. The various essays use minimal technical jargon (be that in respect to theology or finance), making the book accessible to the layperson and specialist alike.
Timothy Keller (1950-2023), the late pastor and theologian from New York opens up the discussion in Chapter 1 with an intriguing take on personal identity and what it means to have an identity that is rooted in Christ. Keller writes that “…an identity that flows from who he is and what he has done for us changes everything. It radically transforms the way we work, the way we invest, the way we view money, all of it” (page 14). He then goes on to list four different ways in which this happens. We won’t enumerate all here but the third makes an interesting and important point: God (being omnipotent) could provide for our material needs directly yet he chooses not to do so and instead uses human work as a means of provision (page 15). This raises profound implications for the nature and value of work which, according to Keller, means that: 1. All work carries great dignity, even the most menial; 2. Through work we are “…God’s hands and fingers, sustaining and caring for his world”; 3. One of the main ways of pleasing God is simply to do our work well (page 16). These assertions are consistent with the historic Protestant view of work of which Martin Luther was an early advocate. Those who wish to explore them further could read other books reviewed on our website such as Why Business Matters to God, Business for the Common Good and Tides of Life.
In Chapter 4 Luke Rousch, cofounder of Sovereign Capital brings a fresh challenge to some established normative positions that many Christian investors take. Rousch spent his entire career in large scale business commercialisation and development and argues that for too long faith driven investors have become known for what they are against, rather than what they are for (page 59). He rightly points out that this is a missed opportunity for Christian investors to become better known for what they stand for in the world and not merely for what they stand against. Part of the problem, Rousch argues, is “that it’s easier to avoid things than it is to engage with them. That’s also true in life, not just investing” (page 62). Avoiding “sinful” industries altogether such as tobacco, adult entertainment and so on is perhaps the most obvious example. The risk is that we end up steep in legalism and behaving like the Pharisees did. Sure, negative screening is important when it comes to constructing an investment portfolio but “…we are called to lean in, with truth shared in love, and celebrate the great things God is doing in and through the marketplace. We must seek out, embrace, and pour ourselves into the creation of new things” (page 62). Rousch thus argues for a more proactive approach where we should seek “…a balance between negative screens, positive screens and active engagement” (page 63).
Casey Crawford, CEO and founder of Movement Mortgage concludes the discussion with a reminder to seek God’s larger perspective rather than our own, “…are we working for our return of for God’s return?” (page 198). In the Parable of the Tenants we have the example of the tenant who did nothing with what was given to him, Crawford argues that we must maintain an attitude of expectancy of the coming new Kingdom. This doesn’t necessarily mean “…working harder so we’ll have more success to show God. It’s about seeking our work as an act of service to the Master” (page 199).
In summary, “Faith Driven Investing: Investment Has an Impact–What’s Yours?” is not a “how to” guide on ethical investing and those seeking investment strategies or advice should look elsewhere. It is however a compelling collection of essays that stand at the intersection of finance, theology, and the broader implications of truly living out the Christian faith. A thoroughly recommended read for all those with an interest in the subject.
“Faith Driven Investing – Every Investment Has an Impact–What’s Yours?” by Henry Kaestner, Timothy Keller et al. was published in 2022 by Tyndale House Publishers (ISBN 1496474481, 9781496474483), 240pp.
Andrei E. Rogobete is Associate Director at the Centre for Enterprise, Markets & Ethics. For more information about Andrei please click here.